Death of Osama bin Laden Fast Facts

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Here’s a look at the death of Osama bin Laden.

On May 2, 2011, Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces during an early morning raid at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

– Built in approximately 2006.
– Significantly larger than other homes in the area, and worth a reported $1 million.
– Lacked telephone and internet service.
– Residents burned their trash rather than having it picked up.
– Approximately 24 people lived at the house.
– Surrounded by 12- to 18-foot walls topped by barbed wire.
– Had two security gates.
– Bin Laden and his family’s living quarters were on the second and third levels.
– The third floor terrace had a seven-foot privacy wall.
– Located only about a mile from the Pakistan Military Academy.

US forces retrieved numerous items from bin Laden’s compound, including 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices, such as disks, DVDs and thumb drives, according to a senior US official.

2007 (approx.) – US intelligence uncovers the name of one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers.

2009 (approx.) – Intelligence sources identify the area of Pakistan where the courier and his brother live.

August 2010 – US intelligence sources identify the Abbottabad compound as the home of the courier and his brother, who have no obvious means of affording a $1 million home.

September 2010 – The CIA informs President Barack Obama that bin Laden may be living in the Abbottabad compound. They base this on the size and price tag of the compound as well as the elaborate security.

February 2011 – The intelligence on the Abbottabad compound is considered strong enough to begin planning action.

March 14, 2011 – President Obama chairs the first of five National Security Council meetings to discuss an operation to raid bin Laden’s compound.

March 29, 2011 – Second National Security meeting.

April 12, 2011 – Third meeting.

April 19, 2011 – Fourth meeting.

April 28, 2011 – Last of the National Security Council meetings on the bin Laden raid.

April 29, 2011 – At 8:20 a.m. ET, President Obama gives the order to raid bin Laden’s compound.

May 2, 2011 – In the early morning hours (mid-afternoon on May 1 in the United States), a group of 25 Navy Seals raid the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
– They arrive outside the compound in two Black Hawk helicopters.
– The operation takes 40 minutes total.
– US Special Forces breach the outer walls of the compound before fighting their way through the ground floor of the three-story building. The firefight then moves to the second and third floors.
– In the last 5-10 minutes of the firefight, bin Laden is killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
– Three men, including a son of bin Laden, are killed as well as one woman.
– Bin Laden’s body is identified by one of his wives. Facial recognition is also used.

May 2, 2011 – Bin Laden is buried at sea off the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Sea.
– He is buried within 24 hours according to Islamic law.
– The hour-long ceremony aboard the USS Carl Vinson is conducted according to Islamic law.

May 2, 2011 – A DNA test is done on a sample from the body, confirming that it is bin Laden.

May 3, 2011 – Attorney General Eric Holder declares the raid “lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way.”

May 3, 2011 – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offers new details on the raid. He clarifies that the woman killed was on the first floor, not with bin Laden, and was killed in the crossfire. Carney also says that bin Laden was not armed but did put up resistance.

May 3, 2011 – A congressional source tells CNN that bin Laden had approximately $745 and two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing.

May 3, 2011 – Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahed releases a statement, “Obama has not got any strong evidence that can prove his claim over killing of the Sheikh Osama bin Laden… And secondly, the closest sources for Sheikh Osama bin Laden have not confirmed” the death.

May 4, 2011 – White House Press Secretary Carney announces that President Obama has decided not to release photos of bin Laden’s body.

May 6, 2011 – Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden’s death, in a statement on jihadist forums.

May 12, 2011 – US officials confirm to CNN that US authorities have interviewed three of bin Laden’s wives.

May 13, 2011 – It is revealed that a large amount of pornography was seized from the Abbottabad compound during the raid. It is unclear to whom it belonged.

May 13, 2011 – A US military official tells CNN the Navy Seal team who carried out the bin Laden raid wore helmet-mounted digital cameras that recorded the mission.

May 17, 2011 – Senator John Kerry announces that Pakistan will return the tail of the US helicopter damaged during the raid.

May 18, 2011 – Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates tell reporters there is no evidence that the senior Pakistani leadership knew of bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan.

May 26, 2011 – A team of CIA forensic specialists is granted permission by the Pakistani government to examine the compound.

June 15, 2011 – Pakistan’s intelligence agency arrests several people suspected of assisting the CIA before the raid.

June 17, 2011 – The US Justice Department formally drops terrorism-related criminal charges against bin Laden.

July 11, 2011 – Pakistani security forces detain a doctor suspected of helping the CIA attempt to collect the DNA of bin Laden’s family members through a vaccination drive.

October 6, 2011 – Pakistan’s information ministry says the doctor suspected of helping the CIA target bin Laden will be charged with treason. Also, bin Laden’s compound will be turned over to city officials.

February 2012 – Pakistani authorities begin to demolish the compound.

May 9, 2012 – Citing that it is of national security interest, a federal judge has denies Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information request regarding the release of bin Laden death photos.

May 23, 2012 – Shakeel Afridi, the Pakistani doctor accused of helping the CIA track down bin Laden, is fined $3,500 for spying for the United States and sentenced to 33 years in prison for treason by a tribal court.

September 4, 2012 – The memoir “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden” by former US Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, written under the name Mark Owen, is published.

February 11, 2013 – Conflicting information about which Navy SEAL killed bin Laden appears when Esquire magazine reports on an unnamed former Navy SEAL who says he fired the kill shot, not the point man as told in Bissonette’s book “No Easy Day.”

May 21, 2013 – A three-judge federal appeals court panel rejects an appeal from a conservative legal group, ruling that the release of post-mortem images of bin Laden’s body could result in attacks on Americans.

October 31, 2014 – Adm. Brian Losey, head of the Naval Warfare Special Command, releases an open letter warning Navy SEALs against betraying their promise of secrecy. This is in advance of two upcoming interviews from SEALs involved in the bin Laden mission.

November 7, 2014 – Former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill says in an interview with The Washington Post that he was the one who fired the shot that killed bin Laden.

May 10, 2015 – In a published report, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh contends the Obama Adminstration lied about the circumstances surrounding the killing of bin Laden. The White House later dismisses the report as “baseless.”

May 20, 2015 – The Office of the Director of National Intelligence begins releasing and declassifying documents recovered in the raid in May 2011.

March 1, 2016 – A second batch of recovered documents is released by the DNI. Included in the materials are bin Laden’s personal letters and will.

August 2016 – Bissonnette agrees to pay the US government all past and future proceeds of the book “No Easy Day,” settling a lawsuit by the government for “breach of contract” by violating a non-disclosure agreement.

November 1, 2017 – The CIA announces the release of thousands of files it says came from the bin Laden raid. Among them is the deceased al Qaeda founder’s personal journal.

April 2023 – Newly released photos, obtained from the Obama Presidential Library via a Freedom of Information Act request by The Washington Post, offer a window into the meticulous planning – and tension – among the highest-ranking members of the US government on May 1, 2011.


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